Friday, December 10, 2021

A Brief History of How I Developed My LOVE of Pajamas.

Until I received a pair of flannel pajamas as a Christmas present, I had generally worn nightgowns except for the occasional pair of 'shorties' for summer.  The gifted PJ's were warm and fun because of the comical penguin flannel fabric.  Even though the arms and legs were a bit short, I loved the warmth.  They got washed and dried quickly so that I could wear them all through the cold winter months here in Maine.  I bought some 'bottoms' and another pair, but they did not fit very well either.  Therefore, I decided to make my own. 

After buying a basic PJ pattern, I adjusted the pattern [longer legs + more butt room], I made my first pair.  My idea was to make just the bottoms because the tops were too complicated.  Plus, I like wearing cotton knits that will stretch with movement.   These bottoms were made just like the pattern:  set in side pockets, fold-over top for the elastic, straight legs with nothing extra.  No embellishment at all.  They fit well except that the legs would ride up during the night, leaving my legs without a warm covering.  I was determined to fix that.  This pair is long gone; totally worn out. 

For my next pair, I lengthened the legs even more, yet kept them off the floor by adding cuffs that were just big enough to slide over my foot, but too small to fall past my ankle when standing.  I also decided to try and make some round pockets.  Why?  Just to see if I could make them.  I had seen some in a photo, so I had to try.  They were hard, but I did get them done.  However, they are not very practical because they do not hold much at all.  Not really worth the time involved.  I still wear these, but not for a pajama day because the pockets are too small.    More info here

It was another year before I made more PJ bottoms.  This time, I decided to tackle the problem of excess layers of flannel in the crotch.  Not very comfortable when sitting.

I am not sure where I got the idea for a 'crotch gusset', but it could have been from this pair of silk underwear.  As you see, the seams are all around the crotch instead of under it.  When I made the gusset for my PJ's, I also added another layer of flannel facing on the inside; nice and comfy.   To see the original post showing the gusset, go to the link below.

On the left is the first pair with the now requisite 'crotch gusset'.  As soon as these were finished, I made another pair.  These bottoms represent the first time where I decided everything did not have to be flannel.  I am now on a roll to get more pajamas so that I am able to have more pajama days, then have another clean pair for bed.  I finished the next 2 pair, then retired until December 2019.  Original post here

While many many many are dying of COVID, I am remaining as safe as possible.  However, my creativity has suffered.  Today I got inspired by the Gee's Bend quilts.  I've seen some before.  Yet, today the stories penetrated my heart.  Hope they will do the same for you.

You also might want to view the video here

Sunday, December 27, 2020

I am DONE making masks

I have been trying to create a better fit of the 'Olson type mask'.  This is the result.

Obviously, this one has problems.  So, I tried some more.  Finally came up with this one.

Happy with the way this fits me, I made a few more to give away.  Luckily, I did not make a lot.  Unfortunately, what fit me very well, did not fit a different shape face at all.  About the same time I found this misfit out, I discovered the follow for sale.

When I first started making masks last March, there was nothing out in the market place PLUS there was a shortage in the medical facilities.  Now, there are many for sale, some really goods ones, some awful.  It appears that the medical facilities are doing OK.  Therefore, I do not think I need to make any more.  So , I am DONE making masks.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Exploring more mask designs

These are some mask designs I've been wanting to make for a long time.  However, when I was in a production mode because so many masks were needed, I did not take the time.  Now, Masks and mask patterns are very available around here.  However, because masks are more important than ever, I'm taking some time to try a few new styles.  

Still using the recommended fabrics:  quilting fabric on the outside; pillowcase/densely woven sheeting on the inside.  I am no longer making pockets for filters because of the 125+ I have given away, no one has used it.  I know I do not use it because it is all I can do to breathe through these 2 layers.

This Korean style mask is one I have tried before, but it was way too small.  Now this one is waaaaaay too big.  This is one of the easiest masks to make.  However, I did not put in a nose wire.  I added darts at the nose and chin.  Still not happy with the fit.  Obviously, this one is too big for me.  Do not like the pressure it puts on the end of my nose.  Without the dart it was be worse.  IF I see someone wearing one, I'll try to take a good look at how it fits.

Another style I tried was a simple rectangle with box pleats at the nose and under the chin.  This one is way too big for me.  Easiest mask to cut, medium effort over all.  Once again, this is too big.  Like the coverage plus the space inside.  

I started with this marked up pattern [black lines] sent by a friend in my sewing group.  All of the colored lines are different variations that I tried.  I took the photo on this fabric so you could easily see the problems I had working with this print which was printed wonky.  Of course I did not notice that when I bought it.  I just thought it would be a good winter pattern that could go beyond the holiday season.  Below is the version I made from the yellow lines on the drawing.  By this time, I have run out of colors.  This looks large, but feels very good on.   

At the very start of my mask making, the Olson style mask was one I liked immediately because of the way it seemed to fit people modeling it on line.  However, I could not figure out how to cover up the hole in the middle without a LOT of fiddling.  This mask takes the longest amount of time to cut + the lining is a pain because of the shape.  Those holes down the center of both the lining and the mask are really hard and time consuming to cover up.  I have tried pressing that seam apart and fusing a piece of the lining fabric over the seam and edges of the fabric.  I have tried pressing the seams to one side, then fusing a piece of lining fabric over the seam and fabric edges.  One thing I have not tried is just pressing the seam open and fusing a piece of lining over that area and not extending to the back of the mask or lining fabric.  I will try that next.  It is the most time consuming to cut out + + + lots of time to seal up that hole + adding the wire is tricky because of the seam in the middle = absolute hardest mask design I have made.  Still, because it has the BEST FIT, I'll try making a few more.

I welcome ALL ideas on how anyone has solved the problem of the hole down the center.  

Monday, April 13, 2020

How to Make a Protective Virus Mask with a Pocket

My reasons for writing this tutorial are two fold: 
1.  I only had a video to watch when I started, plus some measurements from a friend who had already made many masks. I do not work well from videos.  I want measurements. It took me almost a day to make my first mask with a pocket and nose piece.  The rest have gone a lot faster because I kept learning as I sewed.  Still, they do take time.
2.  I saw some masks at the Farmers Market that did not stay on the nose and/or had other problems that did not make them a very good defense against the Coronavirus.  

SUPPLIES for 1 mask.

FABRIC for 1 mask: washed, dried in a dryer, ironed before using. 
Outside 100% cotton fabric: Cut 1 piece 9” x 7.5”
Lining  100% cotton sheeting/pillowcase: Cut 1 piece 6.5” x 7.5”

Nose Piece: 4.5” up to 5” finished will work fine.
Using 18 or 20 gauge copper wire: 2 ways to finish ends so they do not poke the fabric.  You can use any wire of your choice as long as it will not rust.  
Option #1: BEND each end in a small loop. The length will depend on your bending. Experiment to see what works for you.
Option #2: Cut the wire. POUND the ends flat on a metal surface.  I used the side of a sledge hammer for my surface.

Using the 18 gauge, flat covered copper thermostat wire, CUT ~ 4.5”

Two strand thermostat wire on the left is copper inside.  The large roll makes it lay flat better than the small spool of 18 gauge copper picture hanging wire on the right.  The solid copper wire needs to have the ends either pounded flat or turned to prevent poking  the mask.  The thermostat wire is coated flat wire that does not need anything done to it after cutting.  I tested ironing it between 2 pieces of fabric.  It showed no melting after ironing the fabric flat.  I'm sure it could be made to melt.  But I also think the fabric might burn.  I'm not going to test this theory because I do not want to clean my iron.  Check what you have around your house.  You might have something that will not rust that you could use.  NOT rusting is a requirement.

Fasteners: If you are making masks for a particular place, check with them to see exactly what they would like. Elastic is usually required by hospitals and nursing homes because it is easy to use. Because of this Pandemic, elastic is in short supply. Some places have elastic, so they will insert the elastic into the masks when they are delivered.

Elastic type preferred: round, 1/8” flat, 1/4” flat, or make what you find work.  Larger elastic can be used to go around the head.  Some people are using large size pony tail holders. Problem = not adjustable.

Elastic length preferred: CUT 9” so that it can be adjusted to fit.

No Elastic: Use string, ribbon, anything that will tie. 
Loop design, CUT ~ 55" to 60”.

Construction Method:  Align the 7.5" edges of the outer fabric and lining, right sides together.
SEW a seam on each end ~ 1" to 1.25" in from the end.

[I have used 2 different fabrics for the outsides of my masks. I hope you are not confused by this. All of the linings are the same sheeting fabric from two sets of sheets.   I took photos continually, when I remembered.    Sometimes I missed a step.  When I have put the elastic in a pile of sewn masks laying on my table, as well as complete the prototype I'm working on today, I will have made my first 100.] 

PRESS seam open.  SEW a zig-zag or other type of finishing stitch along the edge of the lining fabric.  This will be the edge of the pocket to hold a filter if a person chooses.

Align the bottom edges.  Sew a seam the total length.  Press the seam toward the outer fabric. 

Turn right sides out.  Press the pocket edge to allow room for the nose wire.  
Press down over the bottom edge.  Now you are ready to make the nose wire pocket.

How to make a pocket for the nose wire.

Move needle as far to the right as it will go, start sewing the nose wire pocket.  
Sew in ~ 1" or more.  Stop.
Make a stop seam for the nose wire. 
Turn toward the folded edge.  Sew to that edge, back up to the sewn line, turn around to continue sewing until  ~1"  or more from the other edge.

Insert the nose wire until it hits the stop seam you just sewed.  Feel for the nose wire.  Make sure your needle is past the nose wire.  When you are absolutely sure the needle is past the nose wire, turn toward the folded edge.  
Sew up to the folded edge, then back down to the seam.  You have just completed a pocket to hold the nose wire in place.

Continue sewing the seam almost to the edge of the fabric.

Turn the fabric until you are heading toward the bottom.  Sew completely around the perimeter, catching the fabric pressed toward the bottom.  This will hold everything neatly in place. 

Your personal mask should not be used by anyone but you.  It must be washed after every wearing.  

How to pleat the mask with or without a template.

Lay the outer fabric down on an ironing board.
Fold down the top ~ 1"; press.

Bottom edge pressed up to almost meet the top edge.

Turn over with the outside up on the ironing board.  
Fold top fold down ~ 3/4".  Pin.

Fold bottom fold down so that is is  ~1" from bottom.  Pin in place.

The last step in pleating is to adjust the center pleat so that the total on each edge is ~3".  I used a metal ruler until I made this jig.

[I forgot to take a photo in process, but this is how it should look when pleating is finished.]

Now add cut 2" or cut up to 2 1/2" bindings on each side; leave the ends open for elastic or ribbon.  

Or you can add long, smaller bindings to use as ties.  These will need to be ~ 36" to 40" total length each side, with the 'pleated mask' inserted in the center.